okay, so, Justine Larbalestier (author of Liar! read it!), whose blog i kind of obsessively-sporadically follow, has a post up about Amazon's list of "most influential YA of the decade." I'm not linking to Amazon's list because I don't like you, Amazon.
So, basically, Amazon gave a lot of predictable answers and a lot of answers that weren't so predictable, and listed a couple of writers who I don't think deserve anywhere near the influence they have. BUT, most unforgivably, in my opinion, they left out:
I'm pretty ticked that Alex Sanchez was not on this list!!!!!! I'm sorry, but you couldn't have David Levithan without Alex Sanchez. You couldn't have Boy Meets Boy without Rainbow Boys--can anyone really say this wasn't one of the most influential books of the decade all by itself? Not to mention Alex Sanchez has won more awards and written a wider range of subjects for teens (especially queer teens) than David Levithan has, *and* unlike David Levithan, who is a fresh-faced young white Ivy Leaguer, Sanchez is a Mexican-American immigrant, which is important and influential all by itself. Also? He's a guidance counselor, how great is that. Also Also, his books have been banned more, which says a lot in and of itself. ILU ALEX SANCHEZ, and you certainly are one of the biggest influences on my writing this last decade. <3
Reading recommendations: seriously if you have not read the Rainbow Trilogy (Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road), you are missing something wonderful.
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, Stop Pretending (What Happened when My Big Sister Went Crazy), What My Mother Doesn't Know, and What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know are all books I would classify as perfect for young teens, especially girls. Like Ellen Hopkins, they utilize voice and verse in this completely addictive and endearing way that has absolutely influenced other writers, from Natasha Friend to Lauren Myracle. And Sones' teenagers are so authentic and fun and a little innocent, but a lot not, and her books have this way of sticking with you. I loved watching teens I tutored read her books because they were so easy and readable. They were also real, open-hearted, and important.
I hesitate to say this but I feel like Shannon Hale was to this decade what Gail Carson-Levine was to the last, and when we look back at where the mass of future YA writers took their inspiration for future reworkings/reinvention of fairy tales, we'll see Carson-Levine, and Hale, and maybe writers like Malinda Lo and Edith Pattou, and maybe even yuletide. But, most especially, we'll see Shannon Hale.
Do I really even have to explain this? National Book Award Winner, poet, activist, one of the only people who can beat Stephen Colbert at his own game, this man is a brilliant thinker and a brilliant writer. Influential because he showed us all how to combine issue-laden YA with trenchant humor, and then showed us that it could A) sell, B) be taken seriously by those who never want to take YA seriously.
I feel like the only conceivable excuse for not putting Holly on this list (seriously, wtf wtf) is because the people who wrote it are just not that in touch. Because if you are even the slightest bit attuned to the YA community, then you know that Holly is everywhere in it, showing support and encouraging authors and talking about the value of the genre and the writers in it, and basically being a tireless glittery goth fairy of enthusiasm for her trade. Quite literally, she probably more than any other single person this decade has directly influenced other writers, by seeking them out, going, "hey, you're good, you should write about X." I have seen her do it many times. She has done it to me (and I am endlessly grateful). She has her fingers in every YA pie there is. It's crazy-hard to pick up a YA anthology from the last 5 years that doesn't either have her in it or at least mention her as an influence.
What's more, Holly's books, and really even Tithe alone, completely ignited a decade of YA urban fantasy all by itself. Without Tithe we wouldn't have Wicked Lovely and definitely wouldn't have City of Bones, and the ripples expand outward from there. Even more importantly, Holly's insistence on including queer characters in her fiction and making them part of her overarching narratives without insisting on turning their sexuality into big deals (or, worse, shocking plot twists) was hugely influential on a lot of us. Without Corny (Tithe/Ironside), we couldn't have had Jamie (Demon's Lexicon). Without Holly constantly speaking up on behalf of realistic YA fantasy and the authors who write it, we probably wouldn't have nearly the marvelous gluttony of urban fantasy we have today.
Again, I've seen teens who hated to read devour WDM's books. They are always fresh, innovative, and powerful. Myers is like Laurie Halse Anderson in that he routinely tackles issues head-on that most other writers tiptoe around: school shootings, gang violence, racism, absent fathers, drug use, and teen pregnancy, just to name a few. Like Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones, Monster veers away from strict prose into screenplay/verse, but this just makes it more real, more visceral, and readable. I love reccing this book because I always know it's going to grab teen readers. Watching high-risk teens and reluctant readers respond to Monster over the years showed me exactly how important it is for kids to have voices that reflect their own experiences, the world they live in. Monster is not clean or neat or easy, certainly not like the irony of John Green (which is is often too self-aware to feel real to me). But I think Walter Dean Myers has probably influenced non-fantasy writing for teenage boys more than any other writer this decade.
Not putting Sarah Dessen on a list of influential teen writers of the 2000s is like not putting Judy Blume on an influential list of the 70's. You'd only do this if you a) weren't really all that aware of teen lit and just wanted to throw a list together based on writers who blog a lot and/or get a lot of pub buzz, because really what other excuse could you possibly have for leaving off Ellen Hopkins *and* Alex Sanchez *and* Sarah Dessen in the same list, rant rant rant, or b) you just don't think girly books about relationships and families and feelings are all that important to begin with. Nevermind that they're bestsellers and beloved by an entire generation of girls, that Dessen herself is an inspiration to countless readers and writers, much as Blume was at the pinnacle of her career. With nine books to her credit, Sarah Dessen's exclusion from this list is a perplexing and aggravating oversight. (Especially when Cory Doctorow makes the shortlist of mentions with only one YA to his name.)
More writers who'd be on this list, if I weren't really fuzzy on where that nebulous line between "intermediate fiction" and YA is: Darren Shan, bc Cirque Du Freak is not only influential, but I've seen it make kids who never wanted to read before in their life want to read through to the end of book 1; Louis Sachar (I want to induct the entire Holes Trilogy into the 2000s and then smother it with love ♥ Ellen Hopkins, who is totes YA, but I've already seen her lauded in a few places (and have talked about her influence already on this journal);.
- Ladies, Please!, Ladies, Please (Carry On Being Awesome), and Ladies, You Are Awesome (Just Admit It, Quit Fronting) **Note: latter contains spoilers for The Demon's Lexicon.
If I were to run through my current favorite girl-centric and/or femslash-friendly fandoms, a quick list off the top of my head looks like:
- 1. Whip It (film) - working on a pimp post for this
2. Friday Night Lights - my pimp post for this show is here
3. Devil Wears Prada (film) - my fic recs are here - I wish there were more but what's there is SO GOOD.
4. Gossip Girl (books/tv) - Blair/Serena forever <3
5. Nobuta wo Produce (tv) - my pimp post for this show is here <3
6. Gilmore Girls <333! (tv)
7. Vampire Academy (books) - i'm told i'll find Lissa a total tool later on but I'm 3 books in and i think she's awesome and really just want her and Rose to make out already, god.
Name a girl-friendly and/or femslash-friendly fandom (or canon source) that you love!